Capitol Hill during Black Lives Matter v. Capitol Hill today.
No words needed. pic.twitter.com/HA0Hnse2eU
— Guy Verhofstadt (@guyverhofstadt) January 6, 2021
Let’s summarize, shall we?
On January 6, 2021, Donald J. Trump held a rally at The Ellipse. Trump tweeted about this rally on December 19, 2020, “Big protest in DC on January 6th. Be there, be wild!”
At about 1 p.m., lawmakers were gathering to count Electoral College votes and certify Biden as the next president. At about 1:10 pm, rioters from the rally at The Ellipse walked to the Capitol and began skirmishes with the Capitol Police. It is unclear exactly how this all went down, but it seems pretty apparent that in certain areas, police were taking selfies with the mob, and in other areas, things were not quite as gregarious.
Many of the Capitol Police were injured, one was killed by a blow to the head with a fire extinguisher. One of the protesters was shot in the neck as she climbed through a window. She died. One man, in the course of the excitement, died of a heart attack, and another woman was trampled to death in the rotunda.
All tolled, five dead.
While all this was happening, Trump was in the Oval Office (not “with them” as he said in his speech an hour prior), tweeting that he loves his “special people,” and they should go home—reiterating the fact that the election was stolen from him. All this as some people were bleeding, one was getting shot and subsequently dying, and some were breaking into Congressional offices and posting it on Facebook.
Government officials were outfitted with escape helmets and evacuated from the area. One of them was Vice President Mike Pence. Rioters had constructed a gallows for Pence because he refused to disregard the 80 million people who voted against Trump and give him the presidency anyway. (Not really sure where our disgraced leader got this idea, but most likely it was misinformation he picked up on Twitter.)
It didn’t take too long before conservative outlets began to “what about…” Black Lives Matter. This has been a weapon of the right for the last five years. It would be impossible to defend much of what Trump has said, did, or enacted in that time, but you can always bring up something that democrats or liberals were responsible for as a way of offsetting the guilt.
So before the last Confederate Flag was escorted off the premises, Black Lives Matter became the defense. Some real creative outlets even began to try to spin the narrative that this was “Antifa” dressed as Trump’s base in a “false flag” operation.
This has also been a much-used tactic. Obfuscate the facts as much as possible until nobody really knows what happened and then overwhelm the general public to the point where they just stop caring one way or the other and just get back to their jobs and their bills they can’t pay.
But look, as long as we are bringing up the insanity of this past summer, it’s helpful to look at it for what it was.
Let’s first agree that yes, there were opportunists who really didn’t care all that much about social issues. They just wanted to destroy things. This was a perfect storm brought on by a pandemic, skyrocketing unemployment, poverty, and frustration, and it would be easy to write an entire book about that. But, as I said, let’s push that aside and look at the protests that had meaning: what caused them?
Why, George Floyd, of course. To be more specific, a white man held his foot on a Black man’s neck for eight and a half minutes as the black man pleaded for his life, called out for his dead mother to help him, and finally, died a horrific and torturous death.
I don’t expect most white people to understand what it must feel like to be Black in this country and to have watched that video, but I can, at least, understand it enough to know exactly why the BLM protests happened the way they did.
What caused the events at the Capitol building last week? The rantings of a megalomaniacal white man.
Do you catch where I am going with all of this?
I am, in no way, an apologist; however, it would be dangerously myopic to not have an understanding of what an oppressive white patriarchal society can do to a diversified people. It is so easy for bigoted white people to see the riots that broke out in June as the work of bad Black people. It takes some empathy to understand that, most of the time, it’s sad Black people. And millions of white people finally got a visceral reaction to what is, sadly, the everyday reality for an entire culture.
On an anecdotal level, I can say that in my travels—which are vast—every time I see a young person standing behind his car as it is being searched by the police, the young person happens to be male. And Black. Without fail. Every time.
So yes, what about the Black Lives Matter protests? Aren’t we just seeing the same thing from the other side now?
No. We’re just seeing the same thing.